To Sleep Perchance to Dream
The Sleep section at Evergreen Nutrition receives a staggering amount of customer attention. Many, many people coming into the store report an inability to sleep properly, or attain a sufficient night's sleep. Everyone at some point understands how a poor night's sleep (or no sleep at all) has many detrimental consequences. It is not an exaggeration to say that sleep is absolutely essential for mind and body (and vital health). According to a study by the National Sleep Foundation, 40 million Americans suffer from a variety of 70 different sleep disorders. Sixty percent of adults reported problems sleeping a few days out of the week. So, you are not alone!
Just as there are many reasons why one may not be able to fall asleep quickly or maintain restful sleep throughout the night, there are many possible remedies for this, ranging from lifestyle choices to supplements. A few tips lifestyle-wise which may not immediately come to mind are limiting alcohol before bed and avoiding heavy meals too close to bedtime. Although many people feel that an alcoholic beverage or two close to bedtime may help them get to sleep, the fact is that alcohol is a depressant and will affect the body adversely after its initial effects wear off. This manifests in a wakeful state several hours later as the body (liver) struggles to metabolize the acetaldehyde formed from the alcohol. Alcohol also interferes with REM sleep (more about this later). If you are bound to have alcohol before bed, try a little liver support such as N-acetyl-cysteine along with it and help your body during the night resulting in a more restful sleep. Heavy meals close to bed will result in poor sleep as the body expends energy to digest. Here digestive enzymes with a meal will assist the process and lessen discomfort and wakefulness.
REM sleep is the state where dreaming occurs. This is not the deepest stage of sleep, but is an important stage due to the dreaming process. It has been theorized that the purpose of this sleep state is to solve problems and file/process the day's events, extracting negative feelings from your memory bank. Thus, if you are unable to reach this state, you will not be able to let go of those negative emotions and instead remain in a perpetual state of anxiety. Also it is believed that dreams are responsible for the transfer of memories between short-term memory and long-term memory. Lack of REM sleep is believed to hinder long-term memory.
The physiological process of sleep is linked to GABA receptors in the brain. Some classes of drugs such as benzodiazepines (Valium) work on this mechanism. Some of the classic sleep herbs also work this way, such as valerian, whose compounds bind to GABA receptors thereby inducing sedative effects. GABA is available as a supplement and has long been popular as a sleep and anti-anxiety aid. A standard dose is from 500-1,000 mg up to three times daily. For sleep purposes, however, one dose before bedtime is ample. GABA's absorption is difficult, not easily reaching the brain where it is needed. Recently an improved form of this compound has become available. Phenyl GABA, or phenibut, is easily able to cross the blood-brain barrier and exert its effects. This form may be considered stronger and much more effective than regular GABA. We have had tremendous feedback from many customers on this product for sleep purposes. Neuroscience's Kavinace is the standard product and the company also makes a special sleep formula which additionally contains 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) and melatonin, Kavinace Ultra PM.
Evergreen's staff members have a few favorites they rely upon when sleep is elusive. Holy Basil is a fascinating herb with many properties, among them the ability to normalize or lower cortisol (the stress hormone) levels. If one's cortisol levels are high in the evening, sleep will be very difficult. This herb is not a sedative like valerian; it is calming and relaxing, and by lowering cortisol may improve sleep greatly. Tony swears by Holy Basil when counting sheep doesn't work! He recommends taking it with a calcium/magnesium product. Reishi mushroom is another favorite at Evergreen. This herb is well-known for its immune-enhancing properties in this country, but in Asia it is also well-known as a calming, grounding herb which may improve sleep. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this herb is thought to calm Shen, or quiet the spirit, thus an invaluable aid to restful sleep.
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